Hawks’ National League South rivals offer free legal advice to all step 2 clubs

The vice-chairman of one of Hawks’ National League South rivals has received a positive response after offering a helping hand to rival clubs.

Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 11:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 11:30 am
Hawks striker Jonah Ayunga in action against Hemel Hempstead in the 2019/20 National League South season. Picture: Dave Haines

Hemel Hempstead Town official Kerry Underwood is a senior partner at Underwoods Solicitors and, given his role, has dealt with a number of football law related issues.

Given his experience and the current circumstances with the NL South and North seasons being ended due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Underwood circulated an email to clubs at step 2 with the offer of giving them free advice on any legal issues they may have.

Those include players’ contracts, employment of staff, arrangements with sponsors, season ticket refunds for unplayed matches and general planning for the next campaign, whenever that may be.

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‘I have had a third of all clubs in the National League South and North contact me,’ Underwood said.

‘Some have just been getting in touch just to say thanks and that they appreciate it and I have had a few phone calls and emails asking for a bit of practical advice.

‘A lot of things are what I anticipated with regards to players’ contracts and retention and the general view at this level and slightly above is that players’ pay will be slightly lower than before.’

That cannot come as a huge surprise to anyone - not least the players themselves - given the fact that clubs’ major income streams abruptly ended two months ago.

‘Then there is the subject of unplayed matches and season ticket refunds or discounts for next year so there has been some interest from clubs and it’s nice to offer a helping hand,’ Underwood continued.

‘It’s difficult for clubs at the moment because there has been a lack of guidance from the National League.

‘The South and North probably have less power than any other leagues.

‘We are part of a structure where 44 clubs have eight votes compared with the National League, which has different considerations, having 24.

‘But, overall, I think it’s clear that the National League have been waiting for the Football League before making their move.’

Underwood’s comments are echoed by Hawks director Trevor Brock, who has criticised the footballing authorities ‘for their lack of leadership which has been paramount right from the start’ of the pandemic. ‘And the FA have been the worst.’

Though insisting the government’s furlough scheme has helped with regards to players who are on contract through the summer, Brock said yesterday: ‘It is still a really difficult situation.

‘We talk to our players regularly, they are appreciative of our position. It’s not easy for them, but it’s not easy for the club either.

‘The FA have been telling clubs to keep on operating as they were before, but we haven’t had a single penny come in since football was stopped.

‘We will be lucky if we keep any of our sponsors. Firms won’t want to give money to a football club when they will be looking to try and save themselves.’

As far as his own club is concerned, Underwood admitted it is very much a case of ‘looking forward’ for the Tudors who were six points off the play-off zone with a game in hand when the season was halted in mid-March.

And he is determined to use a rare chance to stop and assess things wisely.

‘The club has always been very well run, it is financially very sound and never paid out silly wages,’ he added.

‘I have been working on the off-field stuff such as improvements to the ground and planning ahead.

‘But we are in the same situation as everyone else, we don’t know when the next season will start.

‘There will be less money available across the board, but this is the first time for a while we have had time to stop and think and we intend to use that.’